“Keep a journal,” Mrs. Kinnen said.
Keeping a journal means, to me, simply slowing down enough to notice: to notice moments, feelings, faces and places, and to ponder them for so long that you come to cherish them. And once I truly cherish something, there is the compulsion to write it down and honor it with a permanent record.
So I’m taking a deep breath these last few days.
This morning I woke a bit on the late side (after 7; what a sluggard!) Actually, I was privileged to wake up four times this morning–but that’s not part of this story.
I woke up under the familiar weight of my down comforter, lofty after years of use because of my diligent “fluffing”. My first sight was of shelves of books–journals, textbooks, art books, magazines, and children’s stories–that each tell of an interest I have, or, at least, have had. My eyes wander: there are the tall pineapple-crowned posts of my bed; there are the photos of places I have seen and want to remember; there are the chairs I loved and bought because of my mother’s encouragement to do so; there is the artwork of a best friend, the gift of a sister, the framed card I thought sweet enough to preserve… There is the collection of my years on the earth.
And high on a top shelf, noticeable because it was recently moved and still seems out of place (I don’t adjust to change so very quickly), is a vase bursting with dried flowers. Each time it catches my eye, the thought is the same, and this time was no different: “Those are not quite as pretty as at first. I’ll need to collect a new bouquet from the gardens this summer.”
Ah, this summer. Suddenly I was taking in the room with a fresh appreciation, although my mind was wandering. Summer has always meant one thing for sure: long days out in the hot afternoon sun, weeding and turning sod and pruning and transplanting, rewarded by vibrant patches of color that grew larger each year. But this summer? What will this summer be?
There are winds of change, and a sense of excitement mingled with twinges of sadness. There are summer days of hot sun when the air is still and smothering, and suddenly a gust of wind will sweep through–and it stops you suddenly, because you recognize the cool temperature and sweet smell as the warning of drastic change. Rain is coming.
Change is coming, and I realized, as I looked at the dried arrangement in my room, that without even realizing it, my summers of working in Mama’s perennial beds have been relegated to the attic of my memory, to be retold to nieces and nephews and even my own children.
I’m always struck by the fact that, no matter how much planning and thinking goes into a transition, there is still a certain moment, a sudden instant, when that transition takes place. All the planning in the world can not change the pace at which that happens. How many weddings have I attended and simply marveled at the fact that, regardless of whether the event took two months or two years to plan, that man and that woman, after repeating two short sentences, just had their lives changed. It’s sudden, whether you ease in or dive in.
And I guess part of that “sudden” is happening already, in the realization that suddenly childhood Christmases are a memory, summer gardens are a memory, coming home to my siblings is a memory, getting rides with my mom is a memory, my identity as only a daughter is a memory.
I don’t mean to sound morbid or sad, because I certainly am not. If anything, as I process what effect this “suddenly” has had on my life, and I box up each memory and tuck it away to be retold, I realize how very full of wonderful things my life has been and how very rich in blessing I have always been. This morning, as I looked at those telling flowers, I thought, “I can’t wait to tell stories about how Mama and I loved the same things together, and how my life was permeated with the warmth of love.”
So today I’m excited about change, and even more excited because of the wealth with which I face the future. I have much to pass on.